August 1, 2008

New diversity program focusing on residents debuts

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On hand at the dinner were, from left, Donald Brady, M.D., Walter Clair, M.D., Deborah Clair, M.D., Suzy Owen, Doreatha Churchwell and Andre Churchwell, M.D. (photo by Tommy Lawson)

New diversity program focusing on residents debuts

More than 150 faculty, staff and residents gathered June 26 for a dinner welcoming 24 new minority house staff residents and four fellows to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

The dinner, held at the home of Walter Clair, M.D., assistant professor of Medicine, celebrated diversity in graduate medical education and launched the new Minority House staff for Academic and Medical Advancement (MHAMA).

MHAMA represents a giant step forward for VUSM as a leader in diversity in medical education, according to Andre Churchwell, M.D., associate dean for Diversity in Graduate Medical Education. Many medical education programs focus diversity efforts on undergraduate medical education, Churchwell said. MHMA is unique in its focus on residents.

“MHAMA creates a nurturing environment for new house staff, addresses the health issues of the minority community, and assists in the formation of mentoring relationships between house staff and senior faculty,” Churchwell said. “This is about helping the new minority house staff see Vanderbilt as place of diversity, as a place that wants them, and as a place that is excited about them being here.”

Churchwell added that VUSM's attitude and effort toward diversity in graduate medical education put the school on the map as a program with a strong commitment to diversity in recruitment.

“We hope to keep some of these fine young men and women physicians as faculty here at Vanderbilt,” he said.

“The new organization wants to show incoming interns that we are a team,” said Monique Anderson, M.D., the current president of MHAMA. “Once we start together, we finish together. We will share in each other's successes and, sometimes, failures.”